Six individuals and two teams at the University of Guelph received President’s Awards for Exemplary Staff Service today at the 12th-annual community breakfast on campus.

Created in 2003, the awards program recognizes U of G staff members who have demonstrated consistent commitment to excellence and have exceeded expectations.

It was the first large community event overseen by U of G’s new president, Franco Vaccarino. He welcomed staff and faculty to the start of a new academic year. “In many respects, we are in a time of transition for the University,” he said.

“We are celebrating U of G’s 50th anniversary this year and, with that, recognizing the accomplishments of the faculty, staff, administrators, board members and alumni who guided our institution during its first half-century.  It is important to embrace the past as we move forward to the future.”

Awards went to the following:

Community Service Award

Heather Bailey, a teaching associate in the Department of Animal and Poultry Science, volunteers for College Royal, the United Way and the Canadian Federation of University Women. In particular, the mentoring and training she provides students in animal training for College Royal was noted.

Hidden Hero Recognition Award (tie)

Dave Bezanson, lead hand in the Department of Physical Resources mechanical shop, provides organization and guidance to the team that maintains U of G’s water mains. He ensures the conditions needed for excellence in teaching and research, which has a substantive impact on the campus.

Daniel Harrison, grounds co-ordinator at the Kemptville campus,  provides a safe and well-maintained campus, particularly during the harsh winter months. He is known as an extremely conscientious and professional worker who personifies dedication.

Innovative Leadership Recognition Award

Cara Wehkamp, manager of the Office of Intercultural Affairs, spearheaded the establishment of the Aboriginal Student Association and the Aboriginal Resource Centre. Her efforts to increase resources and awareness helped U of G’s aboriginal student population grow from only a few dozen in 2005 to more than 400.

Service Excellence Recognition Award

Betty Clyde, executive assistant in the Ontario Agricultural College dean’s office, is known as “the face of OAC.” Her nominators say she manages and troubleshoots with empathy and patience, motivating others to offer that same level of service.

University of Guelph Spirit Award

Ryan Brejak, Department of Alumni Affairs and Development, is responsible for liaison with young alumni. His enthusiasm for the traditions of the University that build student spirit were lauded, as well as his natural inclination to build relationships and to recognize the importance of fostering a strong sense of community.

Exemplary Team Recognition Award

Staff in the BA Counselling Office – Matthew Edwards, Shannon Lapenskie, Helen Remigis, Patricia Swidinsky, Miranda Hopkins and Nicole Williston – were recognized for providing calm, understanding support and offering genuine care and kindness to students. With more than 5,000 students, the Bachelor of Arts (BA) program is U of G’s largest undergraduate program.

Excellence in Health and Safety Award

The research-animal technicians in the Campus Animal Facility and the isolation unit were honoured for creating a safe, positive work environment and for their dedication to the welfare of the animals in their care. The team consists of Annette Morrison, Jackie Rombeek, Panos Mavronicolas, Linda Groocock, Michelle Comello, Maka Natsvlishvili, Michelle Pitre, Jennifer Randall, Michael Brunt, Martha Manning, Michelle Cieplak, Tony Cengija, Barb Mitchell and Veronique Carson.

Also recognized at today’s event were 72 staff members with 25 or more years of service at the University of Guelph.